Thursday, March 17, 2011

11 world's weirdest skyscrapers

1. Looming above Bangkok's skyline like a giant Dumbo, this is the Chang building, a thick-legged monster with a porthole for an eye and a pair of tusks more often seen framing the trunk of Thailand's national animal.
Where to see it: At Phaholyothin 26, in the Chatuchak district. Take a taxi from the Aree Skytrain station.

2. Bangkok's second claim to dubious architectural fame is the "robot" building, actually the United Overseas Bank, a vision of cartoon craziness modelled on a toy robot and dating back to 1986.
Where to see it: On South Sathorn road, a 15-minute walk from the Surasak Skytrain station.


3. Known as the "koala" building for the bear shapes that hug each tower's circumference, this is Hong Kong's Lippo Centre, completed in 1988. The uniquely cuddly twin towers are 186m tall and were intended to appear less harsh on the eye than your average skyscraper.
Where to see it: Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong.

4. The futuristic shape and silver orb of the Fuji tower in Tokyo could have been lifted from the set of a Seventies' sci-fi film. The sea of cars beneath Fuji Television's headquarters and the night-time lasers only add to the industrial wasteland feel. The 32m wide globe is an observation deck.
Where to see it: Walk from the Odaiba Kaihin Koen monorail station.

5. The Brutalist-style Genex Tower is an enormous city gate welcoming new arrivals from Belgrade's Nikola Tesla airport. It is 115m tall and has two raw concrete towers connected by a small bridge and a 360 degree restaurant. It scores extra retro points for its dated signage.
Where to see it: In the Novi Beograd district, Belgrade, Serbia.

6. This solar furnace has a curved wall of mirrors that sucks in light to generate heat. The tower's warped reflection of the surrounding French countryside creates a striking image. It is the largest solar furnace in the world and opened in 1970.
Where to see it: Visitors are welcome at Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via in the Pyrenees. Reach it by train from Villefranche-de-Conflent through to Mont-Louis.

7. The Zizkov is one of the most recognisable television towers in the world, thanks to the unnerving black infants crawling up its 216m sides. These babies were created by Czech sculptor David Cerny in 2000, also known for painting a Soviet war memorial tank pink. There are great views of Prague from the top and lifts to take you there.
Where to see it: Travel to metro station and tram stop Jiriho z Podebrad in Zizkov, Prague 3.

8. The headquarters of China Central TV in Beijing is 234m high and known commonly as the "boxer shorts" due to its awkward shape. A Mandarin Oriental hotel was planned to take up residence until New Year fireworks started a large blaze in 2009.
Where to see it: In Beijing's Haidian district, near the Gongzhufen metro station.

9. New York has lofts and Paris apartments, but in 1972 Tokyo had capsules. Stacked in a concrete tower. The Nagakin Capsule Tower, part of the Metabolist movement, has 14 storeys. The 140 individual capsules were manufactured seperately and designed to be replacable.
Where to see it: In the Shimbashi, a short walk from the station


10. For the last two decades the 330m-high Ryugyong Hotel has been a vacant concrete shell towering over the city of Pyongyang. Construction on what would have been the world's tallest hotel began in 1987 and was due to cost 2 per cent of the country's GDP before economic difficulties set in. But work began again in 2008 and the building has since been given glass panels. It has been estimated that it will cost up to $2 billion to finish.
Where to see it: The hotel dominates Pyongyang's skyline but is not located on maps.

11. This wooden jumble of rooms and spires looks like it was built without the use of a spirit level. Created by a one-time gangster, this was once the world's tallest wooden house, standing (just) in the Russian town of Arkhangelsk. Nikolai Sutyagin kept adding to the 12-storey house bit by bit, each time feeling that it still didn't look quite right.
Where to see it: After teetering somewhere between completion and disrepair, the house was demolished in 2008.